Electronics Production | January 03, 2005

RoHS exemptions situation becomes clearer

The Technical Adaptation Committee, responsible for technical oversight of the Restriction of certain hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, voted in December in favour of a motion regarding exemptions.
The technical basis of this change is the recently completed study by ERA Technology for the EC into two existing and nine proposed exemptions, namely:

- mercury in straight fluorescent lamps for special purposes

- lead in solders for servers, storage and storage array systems, network infrastructure equipment for switching, signalling, transmission as well as network management for telecommunications (with a view to setting a specific time limit for this exemption)

- light bulbs

- compliant pin & press fit connector systems

- lead as a coating material for thermal conduction module C-ring

- lead and cadmium in optical and filter glass

- optical transceivers for industrial applications

- lead in solders consisting of more than two elements for the connection between the pins and the package of microprocessors with a lead content of more than 85% in the proportion to tin-lead content (exemption until 2010)

- lead in high melting temperature type solders (i.e. tin-lead solder alloys containing more than 85% lead) and any lower melting temperature solder required to be used with high melting temperature solder to complete a viable electrical connection

- lead in solders to complete a viable electrical connection internal to certain Integrated Circuit Packages (flip chips) (exemptions until 2010)

- safety equipment for fire and rescue services

The committee decided in favour of a proposed amendment to the Annex to the Directive which replaces Points 7, 8 and 10 and adds further Points 11 to 15. The decision is being greeted positively by industry who were concerned that the real technical difficulties posed in eradicating RoHS restricted substances from certain specialised and high reliability applications might not be recognised.
The revised wording has removed all mention of time limits for exemptions since this is superfluous since Article 5 1.(c) already provides for a review of each exemption at least every four years.

Next steps
The TAC intends to review Categories 8 and 9 (Medical Devices, and Monitoring & Control Instruments) this Spring. ERA is launching a new course for industry to show them how to comply with RoHS in February. See

By Dr Chris Robertson, ERA Technology Ltd., UK, , +44 (0)1372 367444,
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